Rare Disease Report

Pilot for Cerebral Palsy Comedy 'Speechless' Available Online

SEPTEMBER 09, 2016
James Radke, PhD
The pilot episode of the new comedy show Speechless is now available online until September 20th.  The pilot can be seen here.
The pilot will air officially on ABC on September 21st.
The comedy stars Minnie Driver as rare disease #warriormom Maya DiMeo who wants to create an environment for his son with Cerebral Palsy (JJ DiMeo played by Micah Fowler).
The official trailer for the show is below.


Let us know what you think of the pilot. 

Real life inspiration for the show

The show’s creator, Scott Silveri said in an interview “For me, it was a question of writing what you know. I came from a family with a brother with special needs…I worked with different versions of it over the years.” Silveri was able to capture what struggles and challenges a family endeavors while growing up with a special needs child by drawing on his own family experiences.
Silveri explained that he wanted to steer clear from focusing the show on the sorrows of a special needs child, but also didn’t want it to be solely about the cliché “Aren’t we just so lucky look at the lesson we’ve learned today based on this young man’s situation” – a balance was needed.

Not just acting

Micah Fowler, who plays the cerebral palsy diagnosed character, J.J., has cerebral palsy himself. He grew up with the dream of becoming an actor, but his dream was curtailed due to his diagnosis. Until now.

What is cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy is a condition categorized by impaired muscle coordination (spastic paralysis) and or other disabilities, typically caused by damage to the brain before or at birth. The brain damage is typically caused by brain injury or any abnormal development of the brain that occurs while a child’s brain is still developing whether it is before birth, during birth, or immediately after.
Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy in an infant may not always be apparent at birth. Cerebral palsy affects; muscle control, movement, coordination, tone and reflex. It may also impact fine motor skills, gross motor skills and oral motor functioning.
Currently, there is no cure for cerebral palsy. Some developed management for cerebral palsy patients to help make the most of their abilities and physical strength, prevent complications, and improve their quality of life. include:

  •  Physical therapy (to help the patient become as mobile as possible.)
  • Medicines (to help control some of the symptoms of CP)
  • Devices and equipment (such as braces, casts, and splints)



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